I’ve been reading and analyzing a lot of thrillers recently – mostly Michael Connelly but also Jeffery Deaver, and that includes looking at their covers. Here’s a few:
Granted, this selection is limited, but reasonably representative. Let’s compare to the Saint Justice cover:
Let’s break down a quick analysis by area.
Author name & Title – The other books all have the author name first, mostly at the top and above the title, taking up approx a quarter to a third of the cover. They largely seem to use the same font for the title. Saint Justice by contrast has the title first, different fonts, and author name take up maybe one sixth of the cover. Hmmm…
Contrast/legibility – It’s hard to read text against a complex background. You don’t want a lot of detail behind your text. The other books follow this rule nicely – they either have block color or misty skies behind their text. Saint Justice has some misty sky, and some blurry blacktop, but it also has those buildings either side, chopping through the words, and the smoke rising up. This doubtless makes it harder to read. There’s also more overall contrast in the other books. there’s dark and then there’s light. Saint Justice is a bit fuzzy.
I spent some time making alternate covers. It’s quite likely none of these is an improvement, but it’s been an interesting exercise. I come to the conclusion that the cover image, as in, the little guy running, is perhaps less important than the text atop it. He’s a signal to genre and quality. The rest should be big and bold, as per the genre.
What do you think?
Same but darker
Title on one line
Title on two lines